When I first read Rheingold’s “Crap Detection: 101” from his book Net Smart – How to Thrive Online, I thought it was driest piece of literature I have ever read. After spending a total of two minutes skimming through all pages, I put it in the back of my mind until three weeks later when I found myself coming up on the deadline of this very response.

After buckling down and grabbing my favorite pink highlighter, I found that the chapter wasn’t so bad. I might have still had some trouble with the concepts behind the chapter, but the little facts and statistics made the information he was trying to convey easier to digest. Reading the article “How Terrorists Recruit Online (and How to Stop It)” also seemed to help with this.

At a first glance, these two texts couldn’t be anymore different. One is about the danger of not controlling attention while online (Rheingold), while the other is about ISIS and their social media recruiting techniques. However, once you begin to analyze these two they aren’t so different after all.

As mentioned before, through the course of Rheingold’s text, he tries to inform the audience of the ways of vetting a source and what can happen when one’s attention strays while online. Such dangers include the being tricked into believing wrong things (Rheingold). To understand his point a little more, we can examine Berger’s article in which he briefly explains how ISIS recruits on mainstream social media. He informs that when ISIS discovers a potential recruit, they “flock around… to surround them with social input,” (Berger). Once the attention of a recruit is captured by ISIS, they can feed them information until that recruit is fully integrated into the ideology. This means that if that person were able to keep their attention from straying while online, they most likely would not have been recruited and placed into harms way.

Since there are many more example in which Berger’s article puts Rheingold’s information into perspective, it is easy to see that though these two texts are different, they complement each other.

As a researcher, being able to link these two texts together through online annotations is very helpful in a couple of ways. First, everything is neat, so it is easier to stay organized. When annotating on paper, it gets very messy, and thoughts can get confused. Also, there is more space to work. When one is not restricted by the constraints of a piece a paper, it is easier to get more thoughts towards the topic into words.

Work Cited

Berger, J.M. “How Terrorists Recruit Online (and How to Stop It).” 9 November 2015. Brookings.

Rheingold, Howard. “Crap Detection: 101.” Net Smart – How to Thrive Online. The MIT Press, 2012.